September 4, 2012


- CLICK HERE TO SIGN OUR PETITION!   944 signers. Let's reach 1,000
COLWOOD SEWAGE STRIFE (paying for unnecessary sewage treatment plant)
ENVIRONMENT RULES TOO LAX (but no mention of sewage plant)


LETTER: MARINA WOULD BRING PROBLEMS TO HARBOUR (no mention of sewage plant on harbour)



ARESSTers: If you're into twitter, you can easily put sewage questions to BC Green Party chief Jane Sterk (see her commentary below),

or if you don't use Twitter, the folks at #YYJchat have an option for you:

For each episode we publish a blog post on announcing the weekly guest, usually a short biography and an idea on what the discussion might entail. Included on that page is a ‘widget’, or window, where anyone can follow the conversation. The hashtag #YYJchat is used in all posts to group the conversation on Twitter.

#YYJchat with BC Green Party Leader Jane Sterk: Tuesday Sept. 4th

#YYJchat is Tuesday September 4th from 7:30 to 8:30 pm. Just follow the hashtag on Twitter and post your thoughts and questions to our guest. Follow @YYJchat for updates. Moderators are Susan Jones (@SusanJones), Kyle Schembri (@KyleSchem) and Mat Wright (@MatVic)
How to join into #YYJchat and FAQs? See our guidelines section


Current proposal locks capital region permanently into outmoded system

Jane Sterk
Times Colonist
July 26, 2012
Letter to editor:

Soon, there will be a "shovel photo-op" for federal, provincial and Capital Regional District officials to cloak themselves as "green" stewards of the environment for funding sewage treatment.

The proposed project fails to meet basic B.C. Green Party criteria. While B.C. Greens support sewage treatment, the new treatment plant will have measurably greater negative environmental impacts than the current system of screening and distributing sewage through outfalls to the marine environment. According to many ocean scientists and medical health officers, the current system is working adequately, so there is no pressing need to implement something that takes us permanently in the wrong direction.

Greens are deeply conservative people in the best (not political) sense of the word. From that ethic, we find it objectionable that we would build for a 65-year capacity based on our current wasteful use of drinking water to flush our sewage and accommodating major storm events because we have not fixed the deficiencies in our storm-water system. Fixing the pipes before planning a new system should have been a prerequisite. Condoning bad practices adds an unnecessary expense to the system.

Building a plant using old methods of waste processing when modern technologies are ignored is unfortunate. Putting it on the waterfront at the entrance to Victoria's harbour seems shortsighted from an esthetics and tourism perspective. And building a 17-kilometre pipeline to Hartland where sludge will be processed is incomprehensible.

Planning sewage treatment with absolutely no recognition of the need for conservation to reduce water use demonstrates a lack of understanding of the value of water. Building codes for new construction should include double plumbing for water reuse. Private property owners need to be required to fix leaks between their property and the sewage system, and a rapid transition to low-flush toilets should be mandated. If the plan were really progressive, the CRD could require use of composting toilets in all existing and new dwellings, virtually eliminating the need for a treatment facility.

The proposed plant cannot eliminate pharmaceuticals, petroleum products and pesticides from our wastewater, so these substances end up in the marine environment. More needs to be done on source control to ensure unused drugs and pesticides are not dumped. On a broader societal level, healthier living could reduce the need for prescription drugs. Provincial action could minimize the use of pesticides. Reducing vehicle use and keeping vehicles maintained is a must.

Once we fix everything that can be fixed and change practices to force conservation, Greens think integrated resource management should be the primary design driver with resource recovery as the objective in developing a sewage-treatment plan.

We support a distributed system with multiple small and unobtrusive plants throughout the communities of the capital region. Water and heat could be recovered for beneficial reuse nearby and biosolids transformed on site into usable and salable products.

Financially, the proposed sewage treatment will add significantly to the property-tax burden, contributing to a chronically rising cost of living that further reduces affordability for young families and fixed income seniors. Each year, the CRD adds new charges for services. Individually, amounts are small, but the cumulative impact, along with the annual increase in municipal taxes, is pricing people out of the region.

- Jane Sterk is the leader of the Green Party of B.C.

Jane Sterk's op-ed note that the current sewage plan is a huge waste.



ARESSTERS: Go to this interesting "Procurement Info Session" at Hotel Grand Pacific and report back what you
heard for ARESST News:


COLWOOD SEWAGE STRIFE (paying for unnecessary sewage treatment plant)

Thanks to new ARESSTer Colin Nielsen for finding this information!

Colwood is now trying to figure out how to deal with expected high cost of the unnecessary additional sewage treatment plant and there are public
debates now underway. Some of the information published by Colwood municipal government is misleading and may lead Colwood residents into
choosing a bad plan. 

Colwood Letter - Paying For Sewage Treatment:

Colwood July press  release: 


ENVIRONMENT RULES TOO LAX (but no mention of sewage plant)

Times Colonist
September 01, 2012

Two months ago, almost 500 significant projects in the province - 150 on Vancouver Island - were part of the federal environmental review process.

Then the federal government passed legislation changing the rules. As of last month, those projects - dams, mines, log sorts, power projects - will no longer be reviewed.

And the provincial government has said it will not step in to provide environmental assessments for the affected projects. Environmental assessments should be done only when necessary - when there is a potential risk to the environment and the public interest that needs to be reviewed and managed.

But these changes are too sweeping. When the Conservative government introduced changes through the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, it did not inform the public that about 490 current projects in B.C. alone would no longer be part of the independent review process. Even those concerned about unnecessary reviews would be hard-pressed to accept that nearly 500 projects could be suddenly exempted from review without putting the public interest at risk. At the least, those examples should have been provided, allowing an informed public debate on the legislation. That did not happen. The federal government maintains "numerous small, routine projects that posed little or no risk to the environment" had been subject to environmental assessments.

But the new legislation exempts projects with significant environmental impact. Coal mines producing up to 250,000 tonnes per year, large-scale run-of-river power projects, new transmission lines carved through wilderness, a slaughterhouse producing 5,800 barrels of effluent a day, pulp mills of any size - the list of exemptions is large and alarming.

Closest to home, the yacht marina proposed for the Inner Harbour will no longer require an environmental assessment, despite dredging that poses at least potential risks.

Even supporters of the project - which could bring significant benefits - recognize that review as an important safeguard of the public interest.

There are still federal and provincial regulations that apply to many of the projects.

But those are narrow and often come into play after there are problems with a project. Environmental assessments seek to identify risks in advance and offer proponents the opportunity to address them. The outcomes can be positive for the developer and the public.

Consider one example. Taseko Mines wants to build an open-pit mine southwest of Williams Lake. The provincial government's environmental assessment approved the plan. The federal government subsequently rejected it, in part because Taseko wanted to destroy a lake, using it as a waste dump.

And after the federal decision, Taseko decided it didn't have to destroy the lake and came up with an alternate plan for the waste. The purpose of environmental assessments is not simply to say yes or no to projects. They identify risks and the measures needed to protect the public interest. Proponents naturally want to take the most efficient, least-costly approach in the interests of shareholders. An effective assessment process protects the public interest.

The federal process might have become too cumbersome and required reform. But the sweeping legislative changes have gone too far in putting private interests ahead of the public interest.



Notice of Meeting on Wednesday, September 5, 2012, at 11:00 am
Board Room, 6th floor, 625 Fisgard Street, Victoria, BC

Agenda items of possible interest to ARESST: 

9. Verbal Update from Roundtable on the Environment

10. Verbal Update from Solid Waste Advisory Committee

11. Verbal Update from Public and Technical Advisory Committee – Integrated Solid Waste and Resource Management Plan


ARESSTERs: Rob Wipond's September Focus article (link below) on storm-water contamination in the Gorge is excellent! Too bad Focus couldn't have included the startling 2007 map (latest one available) of  CRD Stormwater problem discharges  because actually seeing how many storm-water drains in the Gorge require action to reduce public health and environmental risks would have made quite a "splash"!  Those who believe that the incredibly-expensive, CRD sewage treatment plant will reduce storm-water contamination risks will be very disappointed to learn that the unnecessary sewage plant doesn't treat storm-water. Thats another expensive infrastructure project, albeit one that is more worthwhile than the environmentally-insignificant sewage treatment plant.


Click here to send letter to FOCUS

Safety pronouncements for the waterway relate strictly to fecal coliform—but what about industrial chemicals?

My sense of place spins like I’m in a celebratory party version of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Wow, I’m splashing in a Bermuda bay amidst California beach boys and Hawaiian dancing girls! No, my mind reminds me as I flutter about in warm ocean waters below a fervent August sun: This is downtown Victoria, British Columbia, and I just dove into the Gorge inlet. 

It shouldn’t be so unexpected and disorienting. The Gorge’s shallow waters can take two months to turn over during dry summers, and so hover above a balmy 20 degrees celsius. But decades of unregulated pollution from industrial, sewage, boating, and urban sources transformed the once-popular swimming area into a liquid dump peppered with designated contaminated sites concentrated with lead, mercury, hydrocarbons, PCBs and more. 



LETTER: MARINA WOULD BRING PROBLEMS TO HARBOUR (no mention of sewage plant on harbour)
Robert Carlen
Times Colonist
September 04, 2012

Re: "Environment rules too lax," Sept. 1.

The editorial says the yacht marina proposed for the Inner (actually Middle) Harbour, could bring significant benefits.

What benefits? The tens of millions of dollars that the developer claims would be spent by the yacht owners is wishful thinking at best. How about the more realistic "benefits" such as risks to seaplanes, kayaks and other boat traffic in our already-busy harbour, the loss of the beautiful vistas from the walkway, or, as the editorial notes, the potential environmental hazards from the dredging of thousands of tonnes of contaminated seabed?

In view of these and other concerns, I am perplexed and disappointed with the editorial's apparent support for this marina.

Robert Carlen